Meet Harris College’s First STEM Scholar


TCU’s STEM Scholar academic scholarship program was introduced in 2018 to serve underrepresented students going into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Scholarships not only cover the full cost of attendance for four years, they also provide academic support and enrich the TCU learning experience while bringing diverse populations together.

Meet Diego Rivera, a freshman majoring in movement science and Harris College’s first STEM Scholar.

Diego Rivera, TCU STEM Scholar

Being a STEM scholar is a blessing for so many reasons. Besides the scholarship, I feel like I have a group of people supporting and rooting for me to succeed, and it makes me want to work even harder in class. Before being a STEM scholar, my reason for wanting to be a physical therapist was because I had an interest in health science and it seemed like a great avenue for me, but now I feel like I want to use the opportunity I’ve been given to give something back to the community.

How did your journey lead you here?

I grew up in Frisco, Texas which is right outside of Dallas. I went to Frisco High School and, during my senior year, I took part in an independent study and mentorship program where I was able to shadow at a PT clinic in my town, and seeing the field firsthand really got me hooked.

What drew you to TCU?

Well, a lot of other schools’ pre-PT programs don’t really dive into major-specific courses until at least your sophomore or even your junior year, but TCU’s degree curriculum for PT starts students on the health-related courses right at freshman year. It seemed like a great fit so I decided to apply.

What was the first week like?

The first week went pretty smooth, thankfully. My classes have been rigorous as expected, but also really engaging at the same time. I’ve also met a lot of new friends in my dorm and in clubs, plus TCU always has something going on so I’ve been having a great time going to social events on my down time.

What are your future plans?

I’m majoring in movement science on the pre-physical therapy track, and I’m also minoring in Spanish for health professions. The plan is to go on to PT grad school once I graduate from here, and that will be roughly three years to get a DPT degree. But my dream, once I’m done with school, is to open up my own outpatient clinic while also doing research on the side. I’ve been very interested in different breakthroughs that have been happening in the rehabilitation field and I’d like to dedicate my time in advancing the profession from a research point of view. My personal interest has been the use of tourniquets in blood flow restriction therapy to increase muscle growth in patients, so I’m hoping I can do some research with that while I’m here at TCU.

Edited for length and AP Style.